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Enterococci and coliforms isolated from soils amended with manure and digestate
To provide a hub for research into environmental transmission and survival of human and animal pathogens through which a strong network will be developed both within Scotland and globally, with the aim of being prepared and equipped to address any future research challenges in this area.

The core research group in the Centre for Human and Animal Pathogens in the Environment (HAP-E) at the James Hutton Institute studies the following pathogen-environment systems:

  • We consider: prevalence, transmission, source tracking, detection, removal, solutions
  • We work on: Drinking water, wastewater, environmental waters, sediment, soil, compost, digestate
  • We use: microbiology, molecular biology, genomics, modelling, risk assessment, social science

HAP-E acts as a hub through which we link with associate members from other research institutions and with national and international collaborators to provide a critical mass of knowledge and expertise in the field of environment-associated pathogens. Through shared research platforms, resources, approaches, and ideas, we are able to address key fundamental questions on human and animal pathogens in the environment.

Key questions

  • What are the intrinsic biological (genotypic and phenotypic) characteristics influencing bacterial transmission in soil and aquatic systems?
  • What role does the environment play in transmission and development of antimicrobial resistance?
  • What are the risks to humans and animals from bacteria entering the food chain via the environment?
  • What is the likelihood of transmission of human pathogens to crop plants?
  • How do microbial emerging contaminants (novel pathogens, AMR) interact with  chemical contaminants (e.g. microplastics, pharmaceuticals)?
  • How do we address the gaps in our knowledge with respect to AMR and pathogen persistence in the environment?


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.